At the helm of managing people


“You didn’t earn it because you are a female. Let’s not emphasise the feminine thing. A lot of women are appointed to higher positions on their merits,” Prime Minister James Marape tells newly appointed Department of Personnel Management Secretary.

TAIES Sansan is the first woman under the Marape-Steven government to be appointed secretary to the Department of Personnel Management (DPM).
Prime Minister James Marape made the announcement at the Department of Prime Minister and National Executive Council Christmas Party in mid-December.
Sansan has been with DPM for over 18 years now, 13 of which were in senior management level.
From Baluan and M’Buke Islands of Manus, Sansan commenced work with DPM straight after graduation at UPNG in March 2001. She has worked in the areas of records management, filing and assets management, corporate planning and information and publications.

Experience in planning
She also has some experience in manpower planning and auditing, and senior executive services which mostly entails the facilitation of executive appointments, executives contract management and performance reviews of agency heads in the public service.
She also had prior experience in the policy area in which she provided leadership as the deputy secretary for Policy in 2013 and 2014, under the areas of industrial and employee relations, workforce coordination and development.
Her role also required providing support to the Autonomous Region of Bougainville in the establishment of their public service which eventually led to the Bougainville Public Service Management Act 2014 and the draft Bougainville public service general orders.
The 13 years in senior management were mainly at the director/divisional head and deputy secretary level, and involved setting direction, developing strategies to improve the business of executive appointments, contracts and performance reviews of the senior executives in the PNG public service, including 15 months as acting secretary.
Sansan has also been providing advice in senior executive services and policy areas to the head of DPM, including some areas of investigations of agency heads, and also to stakeholders whilst in her role as deputy secretary.

MBA from University of Queensland
Armed with a Master’s in Business Administration majoring in Human Resource Management obtained at the University of Queensland in 2011, Sansan is keen on developing further expertise in management, leadership, modern human resource management and policy development in new reforms in the public service.
“More importantly, to impart some of my knowledge to the next breed of graduates who enter into the workforce so that they can continue the best practice in doing business in the public service, and at the same time practice the good ethics of leadership and governance,” she adds.
“The master’s programme has also taught me basic principles of developing business plans for starting up small businesses for life after the public service, and that has been a major bonus for this programme.
“Since being appointed as acting secretary on March 10, 2018, it has been a wonderful and challenging experience.”
That was her third time to act as DPM secretary.

Dealing with human beings
“The biggest challenge was dealing with human beings in the organisation and ensuring that leadership is provided and results are achieved through effective performance,” she says.
Sansan was acting secretary for 15 month after the exit and re-deployment of former secretary John Kali as high commissioner to Canberra, Australia.

Acting Secretary
On two occasions she was acting secretary when Kali was on recreational leave.
She was deputy secretary for executive resourcing service (ERS) from February 2015 until her elevation to the top post.
Her key responsibilities then included:

  • Leading and coordinating core functional activities for the three divisions under the ERS wing (Ministerial Executive Appointment Committee Secretariat and Executive Search, Executive Performance Management Executive Leadership and Development);
  • Providing leadership as chairperson of the pre-selection committee on executive appointments;
  • Providing leadership as the Secretary’s representative to the joint steering committee on precinct activities;
  • Providing leadership on performance management system on the reporting and assessment of agency heads performance;

Providing closer working relationship with the office of the State Solicitor on contracts for executives appointed by NEC;

  • Providing sound advice to the secretary on key appointments through the MEAC process;
  • Providing full briefs to the secretary on all ERS matters including legal matters before the court s with the assistance from the department’s lawyers .
  • Providing leadership on investigations for agency heads as a result of NEC decisions; and
  • Providing fortnightly and monthly reports to the secretary for his information.

She was acting deputy secretary (Policy) and later appointed permanently as deputy secretary in September 2006.
Her key responsibilities included:

  • Coordinating activities relating to executive appointments, contract management and performance review of agency heads;
  • Reviewing legislations on the appointments and other matters for agency heads to ensure processes are streamlined and appointments are made on time;
  • Finalising NEC statutory business papers on appointments.
  • Providing technical advice to the pre-screening committee;
  • Preparing budgets for the division; and
  • Reporting to the secretary and EMT on SES progress.

She was senior SES officer, at the senior executive services in 2005 and 2006. Her roles and responsibilities included preparing advertisements of CEO positions for placement in the print media and Government Printing Office, registering applications and acknowledgements to applicants, profiling applicants, preparing consultation letters for Central Agencies Coordinationg Committee and the Public Service Commission and ensuring that ontracts are referred to the NEC secretariat for arrangement for contract signing.
Sansan was also acting senior planning officer at the Corporate Services division for six weeks.
In that capacity she was engaged in drawing up the department’s management action plan and senior executive management reports.
From 2004 to 2005 she was acting planning and information officer at the Corporate Services division from. Her tasks there included working on the department’s website and newsletter as well as the department’s corporate and management action plans.
As records and information officer at the registry office of the Corporate Services division her key responsibilities were managing the department’s assets management register developed by Babyman Software Ltd, registering all incoming and outgoing correspondences and manages the department’s Franking machine.
Apart from the MBA programme at the University of Queensland from 2010-2011, she also did two months’ part-time work in 2011 with Direct Factory Outlet (DFO) in Brisbane, with the stock-taking of imported shoes on free days during the study period and semester breaks in line with required under her study and work visa.
Sansan has a bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences majoring in Political Science and International Relations from UPNG (1997-2000).
She attended Passam National High School in Wewak, East Sepik from 1995-1996.
Marape told Sansan that she had earned the job as Secretary for DPM on merits. You didn’t earn it because you are a female. Let’s not emphasise the feminine thing, a lot of women are appointed to higher positions on their merits,” Marape said.

2019-2022 priorities
Sansan told The National that her priorities would be to implement policy in the department’s corporate plan for 2019 to 2022.
Some of these policies are:

  • The 70-20-10 manpower distribution to districts, provinces and national agencies (70 per cent of public servants at districts, 20 per cent in provincial centres and 10 per cent in Waigani.);
  • Seting up regional offices so officers can be closer to provinces;
  • Implementation of the performance management system for assessing agencyheads and cascading this down to officers below them;
  • Having key result areas developed for all officers from the top to lowest officer; and
  • Looking at housing, health and medical insurance for public servants.

Appreciation for appointment
“Let me thank the Prime Minister James Marape for the decision to appoint me as Secretary for DPM,” Sansan said.
“I also thank the Marape government and the cabinet ministers for the vote of confidence and assure them of my support as I lead the department.
“Your cabinet decision upholds the gender equity and social inclusion (GESI) policy and I am the first woman appointed under your leadership,” she told Prime Minister Marape.
“I now look forward to many challenges ahead and to find solutions to address these issues.”

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